Is BP buying silence?

From NPR…

For months now, local scientists have been out on Gulf waters, advising the cleanup and measuring the damage. But there is growing concern that some of the best minds are being sidelined, since they’ve signed on as paid consultants to BP. “Everybody’s arming up for the big day in court,” says Richard Shaw, the director of Louisiana State University’s Coastal Fisheries Institute. He’s one of many concerned that BP is buying up too much of the region’s brainpower. “You would think you’d want to bring all the intellectual resources to bear,” he says. “It’s pretty frustrating.” Shaw says he has not been approached by BP, but many of his colleagues have. University of South Alabama’s Bob Shipp says BP’s lawyers tried to hire his whole Department of Marine Sciences to do research for them. Under the deal, the scientists could disclose their results only if BP said so. Otherwise, they’d have to keep it secret for three years. “They wanted the oversight authority to keep us from publishing things if, for whatever reason, they didn’t want them to be published,” Shipp says. “People were muzzled as part of the contract. They were muzzled, and certainly it’s not something we could live with.” But professors from some universities, like LSU, Texas A&M and the University of Southern Mississippi, did accept BP offers. After a blast of public criticism, however, the Mississippi professors had a change of heart and backed out…

“When the best fishery scientists actually may have evidence that would work against you, but they’re not able to present it to the other side or to the public, well then, you’ve essentially bought some silence,” he says.

Dr. M (1730 Posts)

Craig McClain is the Assistant Director of Science for the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, a National Science Foundation supported initiative. He has conducted deep-sea research for 20 years and published over 50 papers in the area. He has participated in and led dozens of oceanographic expeditions taken him to the Antarctic and the most remote regions of the Pacific and Atlantic. Craig’s research focuses on how energy drives the biology of marine invertebrates from individuals to ecosystems, specifically, seeking to uncover how organisms are adapted to different levels of carbon availability, i.e. food, and how this determines the kinds and number of species in different parts of the oceans. Craig’s research has been featured on National Public Radio, Discovery Channel, Fox News, National Geographic and ABC News. In addition to his scientific research, Craig also advocates the need for scientists to connect with the public and is the founder and chief editor of the acclaimed Deep-Sea News (, a popular ocean-themed blog that has won numerous awards. His writing has been featured in Cosmos, Science Illustrated, American Scientist, Wired, Mental Floss, and the Open Lab: The Best Science Writing on the Web. His forthcoming book, Science of the South (, connects cultural icons of South such as pecan pie with the science behind them.

2 comments on “Is BP buying silence?
  1. Why yes, yes BP is buying slience and the best minds in the minerals business to misdirect, ob·fus·cate, bewilder, confuse, and or stupefy anyone who cares to challenge the lasting effects (none whatsoever) of this “minor spill”.

    Got a problem with that?

    There’s a list of numbers you can call for highly paid environmental enlightenment.

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